My mom and I went to Hot Springs, Arkansas this weekend and WE HAD A BALL. We both had a few free days in a row basically for the first time ever and decided to make something of it! We had originally planned on going to San Antonio but the weather conditions caused us to redirect. There are definitely a good number of things to do in Hot Springs and this trip was everything I needed!
No stress, no worries, no deadlines, no due dates, no blog posts, no social media scheduling.
I’ve spent the last several weeks working my tail off trying to get ahead so I wouldn’t have to think about anything blogging related. I HAVE NEVER BEEN AHEAD OF SCHEDULE IN BLOGGER WORLD. I wish I was kidding. This was all new to me and it has been the best feeling ever. I somewhat feel like I have my life together. I mean, I still don’t, but it feels kinda like I do! I’ve actually got some really exciting news to share with you! I’ll (probably) talk about it next week. Things are (slowly) looking up and this trip could not have come at a better time. It was both a time of relaxation and a time of celebration. God is seriously so good and I am beyond grateful.
Hot Springs is beautiful! I definitely recommend visiting if you ever have a few days to kill. It’s the perfect weekend getaway! We left Saturday morning at 8:00AM and got back Monday evening around 7:30PM.
If you’re looking to make a quick road trip, here are some things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas!
We got to Hot Springs just in time to stuff our faces with “genuine Chicago style pizza” at Rocky’s Corner. It’s on Central Avenue directly across from the horse races and is the prime stop for those of you making your way downtown!
As you can see by their menu, they got their name from Rocky Balboa. Each item on the menu was about boxing in some way:
- The “Neutral Corner”
- The “Split Decision”
- The “Long Count”
- The “Heavyweight”
Although I’m not a boxing fan, I loved the concept behind it. It’s a small, simple restaurant with BIG taste! A few different people had recommended it to us. We saw it while driving down Central Avenue and decided to go ahead and eat it as our first Hot Springs meal.
After lunch, we headed downtown to the historical district where we browsed through a few shops and took a stroll down Grand Promenade. This is a paved walkway that runs directly behind the infamous Bathhouse Row. It’s about a 30 minute walk…unless you’re feeling adventurous and decide to take the hiking trails up to the Mountain Tower!
We spent a few hours downtown and then checked in at the hotel. We stayed at the Quality Inn & Suites which was a very affordable stay in a convenient location. It’s on Central Avenue, just a few miles down from Hot Springs National Park. It was also right next to Bleu Monkey Grill…but more on that later!
Once we unpacked and drank some coffee, we made our way back to the historical district. Only this time it was to see the Hot Springs Mountain Tower! Rylea had encouraged us to go see it at sunrise/sunset.
Sunset was at 7:45PM but we ended up getting there around 6:00PM to give ourselves time to explore and take pictures.
After walking around a bit and soaking in the scenery, we entered the tower. They have two floors at the top, one is an indoor “museum” where you can read about the history. The top floor is the observation deck! I think we were on the observation deck for a good hour or so.
FUN FACT: While visiting with one girl, a couple overheard us mention East Texas and low and behold, they were from Nacogdoches! WHAT ARE THE ACTUAL ODDS?
We were worried we wouldn’t get to see the sunset because it had been overcast all day…and we ALMOST went back down before sunset! Seriously…we were *THIS* CLOSE to leaving and trying again the next day! Suddenly, a radiant, orange sunbeam poked through the clouds and the sky began to clear! IT WAS INCREDIBLE AND LITERALLY ONE OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHTS I HAVE EVER SEEN! We could not take our eyes off it.
I think I took 1,762 pictures…but I literally couldn’t help myself! It was unreal. We got to watch the entire thing unfold right before our very eyes. It took our breath away.
We felt so small and insignificant, overwhelmed by God’s radiance and glory.
It’s most certainly a moment I will never forget.
Visiting the Hot Springs Mountain Tower is a MUST DO. I believe they’re open 9-9! I’m not sure if that’s year-round or only during specific months so make sure you double check before you go! If you can, plan your visit at sunset on a clear day. You will not regret it.
We ate dinner at Bleu Monkey Grill which, as I mentioned, was right beside our hotel! A lot of people had recommended it to us. I had a Chicken Salad Sandwich (shocker, I know) with sweet potato fries and it was YUMMY!
We sat outside on the patio and it was extremely pleasant…partly because of the weather, but mostly because there were two dogs out on the patio with us.
DAY TWO WAS EQUALLY AS BEAUTIFUL AS DAY ONE. We went to Garvan Woodland Gardens and OKAY, WOW. To put things into perspective, the very first thing we saw upon exiting the vehicle was a PEACOCK. Like, what?
We spent 4.5 hours there and STILL didn’t see everything if that tells you how wonderful it all is!
We ate lunch at the Chipmunk Cafe (the cafe at Garvan Gardens) and IT WAS DELICIOUS. I ate a Chicken Salad Sandwich here as well (HAHAHAHA, I’m not obsessed or anything). The meals come with chips on the side and, for someone who doesn’t ever choose to eat chips with my meal (but I’ll obviously eat them if they come with it #GarbageDisposal), they were very good! The sandwich was just…WOW! I ate it with their multi grain bread (you could have that or a croissant) and it was probably one of the best chicken salad sandwiches I’ve ever had.
And that’s saying a LOT!
You don’t HAVE to eat there if you don’t want to, but if you’re there at lunchtime, I encourage it. It’s a light meal and gives you just enough energy to keep trekking (without dying)!
Below is Anthony Chapel. It was my favorite part! You actually don’t have to go through the gardens to see it if you don’t want to. However, I’m thankful we saved it for last!
I had been SEVERAL years ago on choir tour (the good ol’ days) and I was excited to see it again! The pictures don’t do it justice.
If you’re wanting to visit Garvan Woodland Gardens, make sure you set aside at LEAST 2-3 hours. Especially if you plan on taking every trail and pathway which we HIGHLY recommend (blog post on that coming soon).
We were pooped to the max after the gardens so we rested in the hotel before having dinner at THE PURPLE COW…and OH MY GOSH (or should I say HOLY COW)! Everyone recommended this restaurant to us as well and WE CAN SEE WHY. EAT HERE!
First of all, it’s called The Purple Cow for good reason. We both ordered a cheeseburger, split some onion rings, and split a purple milkshake. We also split a piece of their Oreo pie (WE WERE ON VACATION, OKAY!?).
I’d 100% recommend getting their milkshake. God bless America. It was amazing and I could have had 18 of them. It was one of the best things I’ve ever put into my mouth. You technically get two milkshakes for the price of one…but, honestly…DON’T SPLIT IT! #regrets (no offense, Mom)
Drink it with your meal and then keep drinking it after your meal.
I promise with everything in me you’ll be praying for Jesus to hold off on His return until AFTER you finish your Purple Vanilla Milkshake.
We slept in on our last day because we were still recovering from our 22,000 mile adventure in the gardens (but really…hahaha).
For breakfast, we ate at the Pancake Shop (another restaurant highly recommended by friends). We got there about 10:30AM because everyone said there would be a long wait. Thankfully, because it was Monday, there was literally NO WAIT AT ALL. We walked right in and sat down.
SIDE NOTE: If you can stretch your trip out until Monday, you so should! There was hardly ANYBODY downtown on Monday and it was GREAT.
Our waitress was very friendly and helpful! She was an Aggie, too! #GigEm
FUN FACT: As if seeing the couple from Nac at the top of the Mountain Tower doesn’t prove how small our world is…we sat RIGHT NEXT to a family from Mt. Pleasant! HOW COOL (AND RANDOM) IS THAT????
The food was mouthwatering and the pancakes were HUGE! We couldn’t finish our meals (and that’s saying a LOT for me). You should definitely get your own pancakes, but maybe split the eggs/sausage/toast/whatever you want to eat with your pancakes.
I’m not about “I’m just going to have pancakes” life. Not now. Not ever.
After breakfast, we browsed around the shops we had missed the first day. Then we stopped by Fat Bottomed Girls because they were on (and I think won?) Cupcake Wars. We bought an Ooey Gooey Buttercake cupcake to split on the ride home. I’m not the world’s biggest cupcake fan and I still thought it was pretty tasty!
As we were walking to the Fordyce Bathhouse to tour it, we passed by the National Park Duck Tours 5 minutes before they were about to start the next tour. We thought, “WHAT THE HECK!” and hopped on.
After the tour, we decided it was destiny we had walked by the Duck Tours when we did!
The Duck Driver is a hoot. The tour lasts for about an hour and 15 minutes. It takes you down Central Avenue, into Hamilton Lake, and then back downtown.
My mom and I love this kind of stuff! We recommend it simply because it gives you a taste of the Hot Springs history you wouldn’t receive elsewhere. We saw the high school where President Clinton went, heard all about Al Capone, saw Toby Keith’s lake house, and learned a LOT of other interesting, fun facts!
After the Duck Tour, we toured Fordyce Bathhouse. I didn’t take a whole lot of pictures…but it was unbelievable. You HAVE to tour it if you come to Hot Springs. It’s seriously unfathomable. We could not wrap our minds around the ways of the world during that time!
The things to do in Hot Springs, Arkansas include a mixture of glorious mystery, history, and wonder. The scenery itself is worth the trip.
I would love to go again in the fall when all the leaves are changing colors. The entire scenery is just eye-catching and breathtaking! I seriously could not have asked for a better weekend getaway than a trip to Hot Springs with my mom.
Sometimes you just need to get the heck out of town and forget about your commitments and obligations for a little while. I’m recharged and ready to get back on the grind!
I’m no expert but I’d love to answer any questions you may have (if I can) about things to do in Hot Springs. Don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!